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Saturday 21 July 2018

Sinn Fein say power-sharing talks with DUP 'have ended in failure'

Michelle O'Neill Picture: PA
Michelle O'Neill Picture: PA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Sinn Fein said today that its talks with the Democratic Unionist Party aimed at re-establishing a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland had failed.

"Sinn Fein is disappointed that after the last few weeks of negotiations that it has ended in failure," Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, told journalists.

"We did our best to be flexible."

She called on the British and Irish government's "to act urgently to deliver equality" in Northern Ireland following the failure of the assembly to deliver it, citing the terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, who had been involved in the talks earlier this week, said London was acting reluctantly and delaying a threatened budget as late as possible.

"Both governments share the view that it is regrettable and deeply concerning that, eight months after the last Assembly election, a powersharing Executive is not in place to make the necessary decisions, including on budgetary issues, for Northern Ireland," he said.

In their statements Mr Coveney and UK Secretary of State James Brokenshire also noted the importance of the Good Friday Agreement.

"The Irish government, working with the British government, has spared no effort in supporting and facilitating these talks over many months but the issue at the heart of this is the relationship between the parties," Mr Coveney said.

He said the DUP and Sinn Fein needed to resolve the deadlock first.

"The issues under discussion - particularly those on language and culture - go to the heart of the divisions in society here in Northern Ireland and so agreement on them was always going to be very challenging," he said.

"However, I have always believed that it is possible to reach an honourable compromise which reflects the core principles of the Agreement - partnership, equality and mutual respect."

Mr Brokenshire accepted talks could not run indefinitely.

"I think there is already a huge amount of frustration out there in Northern Ireland, that people here want to see politics here get on with the job and serving them," he said.

"Yes, this has gone on for an extended period, but I still think it is right that we use renewed efforts to find a resolution to see devolved government get back on its feet again.

"It's because it matters so much - that local accountability, local politicians serving here in Northern Ireland. But they can't merely continue forever and a day."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood insisted the Secretary of State's move was direct rule and warned that people in Northern Ireland were deeply worried.

"A Tory/DUP government will do nothing for the rights of people in the north. It only strengthens the DUP's intransigence," he said.

"It will do nothing for the rights of Irish language speakers, the LGBT community or victims."

Mr Eastwood said direct rule was a huge step backwards from the Good Friday Agreement and he hit out at Sinn Fein's role in the talks.

"Now their failed negotiation is leading to a Tory/DUP government in London, giving Arlene Foster a blank cheque," he said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood insisted the Secretary of State's move was direct rule and warned that people in Northern Ireland were deeply worried.

"A Tory/DUP government will do nothing for the rights of people in the north. It only strengthens the DUP's intransigence," he said.

"It will do nothing for the rights of Irish language speakers, the LGBT community or victims."

Mr Eastwood said direct rule was a huge step backwards from the Good Friday Agreement and he hit out at Sinn Fein's role in the talks.

"Now their failed negotiation is leading to a Tory/DUP government in London, giving Arlene Foster a blank cheque," he said.

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